March 18, 2010
Conventional wisdom suggests that four points—and win and a draw—are enough to eek past the first round group stage at the World Cup. Conventional wisdom is wrong.
Five points—a win and two draws—is the minimum way to guarantee advancement into the round of 16, according to ESPN number crunchers. Four points will only get you there half of the time, the numbers say. Yes, four worked for the Yanks in 2o02, but we needed help and (luckily) got it.
If you want to guarantee success, five is a must. Oh, and if you want to win the Cup, win your group.
Interestingly, ESPN found that teams who win all their group games lost 75 percent of the time in latter stages. So lead the pack, but save your energy by not dominating.